A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer. - IMDB Description
March 7, 2010
Five Stars for Lon Chaney, THE Phantom of the Opera!
A must-see film for anyone who loves the REAL Phantom of the Opera, Lon Chaney Sr., horror film history, or all of the above! I finally watched this movie again after 24 years of Chaney's Phantom scaring me nearly to death; but I love the Phantom character and love silent movies, so I'm glad love conquered all and I finally got to see it AND enjoy it!
To fully appreciate it, one must try to avoid being over-exposed to the now-commonly-seen unmasked face of the Phantom, and know something about the times in which it was made. My father first saw the original release in 1925 as an 11-year-old boy, and confirmed that the audiences indeed were scared out of their wits with screams, faintings, and general histronics. For all the jaded folks used to modern CGI and horror effects, NO one still has accomplished anything like The Man of 1,000 faces Lon Chaney did here.
Lest I sound like a blind admirer, know that I very much disliked the oft-mentioned "wooden" performances of Mary Philbin and Norman Kerry (Christine and Raoul respectively), as well as the botched, horrible direction by the mediocre director Rupert Julian, or the tragical re-editing and cutting of the original footage.
Nonetheless I wanted to give the film 5 stars for what saves and immortalizes it: Chaney's great performance, supported best by the wonderfully creepy, shadowy atmosphere that is the Phantom's territory. Chaney also made valuable contributions behind the scenes as well, thank goodness! It's a fact that Chaney and Julian did NOT get along, and I've heard that it was actually Chaney himself who directed the unmasking scene (among a few others) and who also insisted that all advance advertising had the unmasked Phantom's face covered).
For my next Phantom thrill, I'm looking forward to a full-size theater showing (usually found around Halloween) with complete theater organ accompaniment!
P.S. The second best "Phantom" portrayal and wonderful in its own way is the STAGE musical, NOT the 2004 movie. Once again, I believe the original in this venue was the best: Michael Crawford. :)